Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customers (HMRC) is one of the most powerful regulatory agencies that operate in the UK. It is charged with collecting taxes and also for regulating, investigating and also enforcing tax laws where it identifies that someone has failed to comply with their legal duties. While it is a well-resourced department, HMRC can make mistakes and this can lead to cases where parties are claimed to have ‘cheated the revenue’ on evidence that does not stand up to logical scrutiny.
UK tax law is immensely complex and allegations for having breached it need to be taken seriously. Keith J Tuck is one of Scotland’s premier defence lawyers, and has developed a highly successful practice of defending clients facing investigation and/ or prosecution by HMRC for tax offences. If you need to entrust your case to a lawyer that understands what is at stake, contact Keith J Tuck today.
What is HMRC worried about?
HMRC’s primary concern is in ensuring that all bodies liable to pay tax – whether they are individuals or companies – do so according to the rules. It has become increasingly wary of unusual tax affairs and is very willing to subject arrangements to a detailed investigation and prosecution for suspected wrongdoing. In the context of taxation, typical examples of this include:
- A failure to file a tax return – this includes both income tax and VAT;
- Making use of forged or false documents in reporting on tax liability;
- Being a part to a conspiracy to evade tax that is due to be paid;
- Filing or inaccurate tax returns; and
- Evidence of involvement in a proven tax avoidance scheme.
In terms of its ability to investigate suspected instances of tax fraud, HMRC is well equipped: it is entitled to conduct detailed investigations into both corporate and individual tax affairs which can include the raiding of business or personal premises with a view to collecting as much information as possible. Ultimately HMRC is worried about preserving the integrity of the tax system, and will pursue a criminal prosecution for tax fraud where it feels that a message needs to be delivered on the consequences for testing tax laws.
Tax affairs are by their nature complicated and heavily reliant on records. In the context of allegations of tax fraud, HMRC and prosecutors will need to be able to demonstrate that there is a ‘paper trail’ demonstrating that tax which is otherwise due has not been paid – for one or another reason. This is one of the reasons why HMRC investigations into tax affairs can be so troublesome. An investigation may need to go back several years in order to determine the legality of a course of action, which can be incredibly stressful for individuals being investigated. Further, a prosecution following a fruitful investigation can have a marked impact on all involved: business interests can suffer and personal relationships can be put under tremendous strain.
What is the penalty for tax fraud?
Penalties for tax fraud are significant and can be disastrous for both individuals and businesses. However the severity of any penalty depends entirely on the circumstances. It is true that in particularly severe cases of tax fraud, a criminal prosecution can result in a period of imprisonment. On the other hand, if engagement with HMRC investigators is carefully managed and there is full compliance with them relevant to the circumstances, then it may well be that an alternative remedy is available:
Underpaid taxes that are the result of a genuine mistake may warrant a lesser punishment via an order to pay what is due to be paid, in addition to a further percentage of tax as a sanction; or
Situations where taxes are found to have been wilfully evaded can result in significantly higher sums in sanction being issued, which may equate to a multiple of the original tax that fell due.
In any event HMRC will look to ensure that whatever taxes are due are paid, and a corresponding sanction issued to reflect the gravity of the offence. This may be able to be adjusted, however that will depend on the experience of a legal adviser and their ability to analyse the situation and determine how best to deal with representations from HMRC.
Expert Tax Fraud Defence Lawyers in Glasgow
HMRC Investigations for tax fraud need to be taken seriously. HMRC will conduct an exacting review of your tax affairs, and will not hesitate to use the full suite of investigative powers at its disposal to gather evidence and pursue a prosecution if it feels there is a case to be answered. It is paramount that you protect yourself in such a situation and instruct an experienced, focused tax defence lawyer that understands the position you are in and can give pragmatic guidance on what to do next. No matter how large or complex a tax investigation may appear, the benefit of having a specialist defence lawyer by your side can make the process far less stressful and could result in a much less severe outcome than would have been the case otherwise.
If you have been accused of tax fraud or are facing an investigation by HMRC and need to speak to someone on what to do, contact the tax defence team at Keith J Tuck Solicitors today by calling 0141 413 8586, or via our online contact form. We understand that urgency and delicacy is needed when dealing with allegations of tax evasion. Facing the prospect of an interview or investigation can make people very anxious, and cause them to be confused on what the substance of the investigation actually is. It is important that if you are suspected of having been involved in tax fraud or are facing an investigation by HMRC, you instruct a defence lawyer that knows how to respond quickly and effectively with a view to protecting you from potentially harmful scrutiny. At Keith J tuckers Solicitors we routinely work with clients in cases of alleged tax fraud, managing their engagement with HMRC and guarding their interests carefully. If you want to work with a legal team that will act quickly to respond to allegations of wrong doing in a way that protects your interests, contact us today.